Identity Theft Statistics
Law enforcement officials at every level of government spend an increasing number of man-hours and resources every year to combat identity theft, and trends suggest that they're fighting a losing battle. The sheer volume of new identity theft cases each year (more than 11 million in 2009 alone) makes it very difficult for them to find, arrest, and prosecute identity thieves.
Making matters worse, many identity theft victims don't realize they're victims until well after the crimes are committed, which makes it even harder to catch the perpetrators. For example, 38 to 48% of victims learn about thefts made in their names within the first three months. That may sound promising, but by the time 90 days have elapsed, thieves have had plenty of time to steal and disappear.
How Do Thieves Use Stolen Personal Information?
As you might expect, credit card fraud is the most popular crime for identity thieves, and the latest identity theft statistics indicate as much:
- 66% of stolen personal information is used to open new credit accounts
- 28% is used to buy cellphone subscriptions
- At least 33% open new checking accounts to write bad checks
- Approximately 12% of ID theft victims ultimately have warrants issued for their arrest for crimes committed in their names
The Costs of Being an Identity Theft Victim
Victims of identity thieves face a long, grueling, and often expensive road to recovery. On average, a victim spends 330 hours and more than $1,000 to clear his or her name and begin repairing his or her credit. More than one-quarter (26-32%) of victims spend up to six months dealing with creditors. Up to 23% are still writing letters, making phone calls, and taking other steps to repair their credit after 12 months. For victims of identity theft, the nightmare manifests itself in all sorts of ways:
- 70% are unsuccessful in removing negative credit information from their credit reports
- 47% of victims experience difficulty getting any kind of credit
- 40% report profound stress in their personal lives as a result of identity theft
- 11% say that the theft has impaired their ability to get jobs (with more employers looking at applicants' credit information when making hiring decisions, this trend is expected to increase)
- 43% of victims think they know the thieves who stole their personal information
- Perhaps most infuriating of all, 13% of victims do know stole their identities
Victims of identity theft spend hundreds of dollars and countless hours trying to rebuild their credit-worthiness, and it becomes a nightmare that can take years to overcome. To limit the damage of identity theft, it's crucial to spot and address it early, when there are more options available to react and respond to it.